Are You Paying Restaurant Staff Properly? Common Employment Standards Mistakes & Questions (Part 1: Canada)

Does Erica qualify for the Good Friday stat?

What’s her pay for that day if she works it—or if she doesn’t?

How am I supposed to handle vacation pay for the new dishwasher? What’s the minimum shift length in Saskatchewan anyway?

For many restaurant managers, paying staff comes with questions, and more questions.

That’s because in Canada, no two provinces have the same employment standards, and in the restaurant industry, no two employees have the same hours.

“The main problem with calculations is it’s not necessarily difficult once you get your head wrapped around the rules, but it’s so time-consuming,” says Evan Drury, CPO of Payroll Connected, an online payroll processing software the automatically calculates all those things payroll managers detest—stat holiday pay, overtime and vacation pay—to each province’s unique rules.

To illustrate his point about how much effort goes into making these complex employment standard calculations, Drury gives an example: An Ontario restaurant manager walks into his office on January 2 to do the payroll. Now, Ontario recognizes three stats at that time of year: Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

“The manager has to track which of those days the server worked. The first stat day is Christmas Day. To figure out her stat pay for that day, he has to calculate how much she earned in regular wages in the last four weeks (before the work week of the public holiday, plus all of the vacation pay payable to her in those same four weeks), and divide by 20.

Now he has to do the same calculations for the next one, which is Boxing Day. And then again for New Year’s Day. This is because the statutory holiday pay for one is included as part of the pay calculation for the next, and the next.”

And that’s assuming she was off all those dates. Is your head spinning? That’s just one employee. One pay period. One employment standard rabbit hole.

The Three Areas of Payroll Grief in Canada

Drury says restaurant payroll managers tend to make mistakes or have frustrations about these three areas:

1. Statutory holiday pay (also known as public holiday pay)

2. Vacation pay

3. Overtime pay

“A lot of people get these ones wrong, and, unfortunately, they vary greatly from province to province,” says Drury.

The only employment standard that tends to be the same across Canada is breaks.

“Generally speaking, coffee breaks are a nicety and anyone who gets one should be thankful because they’re not required, but a half-hour break after five hours is standard,” says Drury, adding rules usually state that it’s an unpaid meal break if the employee can leave the premises, and a paid meal break if they need to remain on-site and be available to the employer.

So, where should you look for answers to your questions about all the other employment standards in your province?

A Province-by-Province Guide To Employment Payroll Standards & Resources

British Columbia

The best resource: This fact sheet for restaurant employers, made by BC’s Ministry of Labour, answers questions about everything from how overtime is paid and the rate of vacation pay to how to handle split shifts and BC’s statutory holidays.

A stand-out standard: BC has the distinction of being the only province in which you can collect vacation pay on vacation pay (employees receive vacation pay while away on paid vacations).


The best resource: If you’ve got a restaurant in Alberta, you’ll want to have this guide to employment standards for the hospitality industry at your fingertips. This guide was made with restaurants in mind. It answers questions such as ‘How does an employee working an irregular schedule qualify for general holiday pay?’ and ‘Can a person under 15 work in a restaurant?’ Bookmark it, or, better yet, print it and tack it to that bulletin board.

A stand-out standard: If a stat holiday falls on a Monday, employers have to look back nine weeks. If an employee has worked five of the last nine Mondays and at least 30 days in the last 12 months, then they qualify for stat holiday pay. Also, daily overtime is time worked over eight hours. Weekly overtime is hours worked over 44 hours in the week. The employer is only required to pay the larger of the two numbers (the lesser number of hours being paid at regular rate).


The best resource: The government of Saskatchewan’s employment standards for restaurants and food services industry is a great resource for restaurant managers. This page includes some really intricate details, such as minimum call-out pay (if a hostess shows up and it’s so slow she’s sent home) and split shifts, but you’ll need to view the general Saskatchewan employment standards page for rules about overtime, vacations, holiday pay, etc.

They’ve also got a handy vacation pay calculator to make crunching those numbers simpler and more accurate.

A stand-out standard: Employers in the restaurant and food service industry must provide employees who finish work between 12:30 am and 7:00 am with free transportation to the employee’s place of residence.

To see the full list of regulations for other provinces, click the link below.

#Restaurants #Payroll #HR #Ameego

In Canada, no two provinces have the same employment standards. Here we examine the differences and provide resources for restaurants in each province.
Add a comment...